Bowie (or Ramsay) v Liverpool Royal Infirmary

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judge.,Lord Thankerton,Lord Macmillan,Lord Buckmaster
Judgment Date27 May 1930
Judgment citation (vLex)[1930] UKHL J0527-2
Docket NumberNo. 9.
CourtHouse of Lords
Date27 May 1930

[1930] UKHL J0527-2

House of Lords

Lord Buckmaster.

Viscount Dunedin.

Lord Thankerton.

Lord Macmillan.

Bowie or Ramsay
Liverpool Royal Infirmary and Others.

After hearing Counsel for the Appellant on Tuesday, the 25th day of March last, upon the Petition and Appeal of Mrs. Isabella Bowie or Ramsay, residing at 2 Ardgowan Terrace, Glasgow, praying, That the matter of the Interlocutors set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely an Interlocutor of the Lord Ordinary in Scotland (Lord Mackay), of the 9th of January, 1929, so far as therein stated to be appealed against, and also three Interlocutors of the Lords of Session there, of the First Division, of the 31st of May, the 17th of October and the 22d of October, 1929, respectively, might be reviewed before His Majesty the King, in His Court of Parliament, and that the said Interlocutors, so far as aforesaid, might be reversed, varied, or altered, or that the Petitioner might have such other relief in the premises as to His Majesty the King, in His Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the printed Case of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the Western Infirmary of Glasgow and the Victoria Infirmary of Glasgow, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and Counsel appearing for the Respondents, but not being called upon; and due consideration being had this day of what was offered for the said Appellant:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of His Majesty the King assembled, That the said Interlocutors, in part complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same are hereby Affirmed, and that the said Petition and Appeal be, and the same is hereby dismissed this House: And it is further Ordered, That the Appellant do pay or cause to be paid to the said Respondents the Costs incurred by them in respect of the said Appeal, the amount thereof to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments: And it is also further Ordered, That unless the Costs, certified as aforesaid, shall be paid to the parties entitled to the same within One Calendar Month from the date of the Certificate thereof, the Cause shall be, and the same is hereby remitted back to the Court of Session in Scotland, or to the Lord Ordinary officiating on the Bills during the Vacation, to issue such Summary Process or Diligence for the recovery of such Costs as shall be lawful and necessary.

Lord Buckmaster .

My Lords,


The facts in this appeal are fortunately free from controversy; the difficulty, and a serious one, is to interpret the true meaning of these facts in relation to the question of domicile.


The Law upon the matter is settled. A domicile of origin can be changed and in its place a domicile of choice acquired, but the alteration is a serious matter not to be lightly assumed, for it results in a complete change of law in relation to two of the most important facts of life, marriage and devolution of property. This is admirably expressed by Lord Curriehill in Donaldson v. McClure in words unnecessary to repeat which were expressly approved by Lord Halsbury in Winans v. Attorney-General.


To acquire a new domicile it is essential in the words of Lord Wensleydale in Donaldson v. McClure to show that the person who is said to have changed his domicile "has abandoned his former domicile animo et facto."


To avoid misunderstanding it is, I think, well to point out that in some cases the animus can be established by the fact and the proof of a change of domicile does not necessarily fail because it is only from the facts that the intention can be ascertained. I agree also with the view admirably expressed by counsel for the appellants that search for independent proof of intention becomes most essential where a residence is retained in the domicile of origin. In this case no such circumstance exists.


George Bowie, whose domicile is in dispute, was born in Glasgow in 1845. He was one of a family of nine, of whom three died in childhood. He was the youngest but one of the family, the others who attained majority being in order of seniority Isabella, John, Dolina, Annie and Alexander. All the members of the family died unmarried except John. The Appellant is the only child of the said John Bowie. George Bowie was employed for some time as a commercial traveller in Glasgow, but there is no evidence to show that his duties took him away from Scotland. He ceased to work in 1882, and he never appears to have worked again. He had always resided in his father's house and he continued to reside there.


His father died in 1884, but this did not produce any change in his habits, and he remained in Glasgow, first with his mother and sisters Dolina and Annie and then with these two sisters alone.


About 1883 his brother Alexander and his sister Isabella went to reside in Liverpool, where Alexander had obtained some employment in a shipping office. There they were joined by the mother and later between 1890 and 1892 by George Bowie. It was not in search of work that George Bowie came to Liverpool; he appears to have gone partly because he was more closely attached to his mother and sister Isabella than to other members of the family, and partly perhaps because his only means of support was an allowance from his brother Alexander. In Liverpool he went into lodgings and remained in the same lodgings for over 20 years, during which time he only left Liverpool once, when he went to the U.S. apparently in search of work, but he was not a successful searcher after work, and he soon returned unoccupied.


The mother died in 1905 and was buried in Glasgow, but he did not attend the funeral.


After the mother's death Dolina and Annie gave up their house in Glasgow and also came to Liverpool, where all the family lived together at 4, Winfield Place except George, who continued to abide in his lodgings.


In 1912, first Dolina and then Alexander died, Isabella and Annie continuing in Winfield Place and George in his lodgings. In 1914, Annie died and Isabella returned to Glasgow. George then moved into 4, Winfield Place, where he remained with Isabella until her death in 1920, and alone after her death until he too died on November 5, 1927.


He left a holograph will unattested, valid under Scotch but void under English Law.


By this will he left a number of legacies and gave the residue as to one-fourth to the Royal Infirmary at Liverpool and the remaining three-fourths to three Infirmaries in Glasgow, concluding with this sentence:

"These infirmary legacies (to be anamous, say a Glasgow man)."


The residuary legatees on May 4, 1928, issued a summons in Edinburgh against Mrs. Isabella Bowie, his sole next-of-kin, asking for a declaration that George Bowie was domiciled in Scotland at the date of his death and that his will was valid according to the law of Scotland. The Lord Ordinary declared in favour of the Pursuers, and on appeal their Lordships of the First Division adhered to the interlocutor which the Lord Ordinary had pronounced. From such decision Mrs. Isabella Bowie has brought this appeal.


The main facts as I have stated them are but little embellished by other evidence. It is proved that George Bowie refused to go to Scotland when his sister Isabella...

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